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Software Architect – Great Learning


system architect
system architect

Introduction

Software applications have become an important part of our daily routine, and it’s almost impossible to imagine life without them. We rely on various software applications, from our social media needs to work-related meetings. However, we rarely think about what makes these applications reliable. The success of these applications depends on innumerable factors, and software architecture is one of them.

Who is a software architect?

Before we talk about a software architect, let’s see what software architecture refers to. When a software application is planned for development, its design is conceptualized in line with the technical and business requirements. There are several design considerations, including, but not limited to, security, user experience, performance, scalability, robustness, portability.

Most of the time, a team is involved in designing the blueprint of the application under a software architect’s leadership. A software architect is a multi-faceted role that involves client interactions, guiding team members, making design decisions, and a lot more. Years of experience in the domain and technical expertise are essential for a software architect to be successful in the role.

Based on their experience, software architects engage in decision-making related to technology, coding framework, libraries, and other aspects of the development process. A plethora of options are available for the same, and it can be challenging to choose the best fit. Trade-offs are unavoidable when one option is picked over the other. However, a software architect has the skills to weigh the pros and cons before making an appropriate decision.

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Software Architect Job Description

If you are wondering about the expectations from a software architect at work, here’s a snapshot. Companies seek professionals who are creative problem solvers. They should:

  • Be comfortable interacting with clients to understand the business objectives for a software solution and translate it into a solution storyboard.
  • Be able to lead the requirements’ investigation and gather, define, and implement POCs for SaaS applications.
  • Be able to architect a technical solution using a C4 architecture model and create a roadmap for its implementation. The design must be low latency and high performance keeping in mind the peak-time concurrent users.
  • Have a strong technical understanding of the security domain and ensure that security and data privacy follow regulations
  • Should be comfortable working with members of the core engineering team and should be able to define and implement best coding practices. They should ensure that the team follows it.
  • Do design and code reviews as well as mentor developers in implementing and delivering the solution. Should also mentor developers in resolving technical issues and providing proof of concepts on the latest technologies.
  • Be able to code complex modules and lead the team by example.
  • Monitor the technological requirements and applicable standards of the domain.
  • Proactively keep a tab on emerging technologies, evangelize and lead adoption throughout the teams.
  • Participate in architecture and design reviews of products that require complex technical solutions
  • Effectively communicate technical constraints and design supported with relevant data and references.
  • Be able to articulate the understanding of requirements and the reason behind a suggested solution approach based upon future trends.
  • Have strong experience in integration between applications using APIs and enterprise workflow, rules, and orchestration technologies.
  • Have experience implementing security such as OAuth, SAML, Single Sign-On, Mobile Device Management
  • Strong experience in designing and building RESTful APIs
  • Should be well versed with Agile software development and management methods
  • Should be experienced in at least one of the public cloud platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud services  

Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of software architects are focused on decision-making related to software solution design based on their analyses of business problems and goals.

  • Liaison between the technical team and customer-facing teams to translate requirements into software solutions.
  • Analysis of goals and problems specific to an enterprise.
  • Analysis and selection of an appropriate technology stack for a solution
  • Analysis of the documentation requirement
  • Analysis of project constraints to compare alternatives, manage risks, and formulate strategies to develop a scalable software solution.
  • Evaluation of the system’s architecture
  • Ensure delivery of an optimum solution through well-defined procedures and processes.

A fresher may not be able to start as a software architect as it requires experience to manage the role successfully. The software architect salary averages around ₹23,00,000 per year in India, but it can go up to ₹40,00,000, as per Glassdoor.

Based on Company

The variation in salary depends on various factors, including the hiring company. For example, an average salary of ₹18,51,134 is posted on Glassdoor for a software architect at Robert Bosch India. A similar profile at Philips reflects an average salary of ₹ 28,98,669 and ₹43,86,000 at Hewlett Packard. However, there are other variables that come into play and affect the salary.

Based on Experience

More than the qualifications, it’s the experience that counts and attracts a better salary. A candidate with more experience in the same skillset as that required for a role earns better than others with lesser experience. Salaries in the higher range of ₹ 30,00,000 are for those with more than 15 years of experience. Those starting as software architects are more likely to earn around ₹10,00,000 per year.

Based on Skills

There may be slight variation in salaries as per the skills, keeping everything else constant. Those with Java/J2EE skills may earn around ₹ 2,366,079, C# around ₹2,187,614.

Skills Required to be a Software Architect

The role of a software architect comes with many responsibilities that require expertise in certain skills. While it may not be possible to list all of them, some of the key skills are:

Communications Skills

A software architect interacts with clients to understand the problem that needs to be solved. This is usually not a linear process, and the software architect must convey his ideas, doubts, suggestions to the client as well as the technical team. This requires good listening and talking skills. The person must be able to document his design and analysis so that the team members, clients, and peers can follow. The documentation plays a very important role even after the software solution is delivered. Therefore, it must be created well.

Technical Skills

Software architects are experienced professionals who have gained expertise in certain technical domains. They must be proficient in the programming languages and associated tools and frameworks. Hands-on programming experience is essential. High technical proficiency is required as they must be able to troubleshoot during the development process.

Even more important is the aptitude for learning new programming languages and technologies. This keeps them competent as technology evolves and more efficient ways to create solutions come into play. A software architect must also have IT manager skills as the role concerns all aspects of a solution. 

Leadership

Software architects must be leaders who understand technology as well as they understand business domains. They should be able to guide and mentor the team members. They must clear roadblocks during the development process and help the team members in making decisions at various levels.

Negotiation

Negotiation skills may not seem so relevant for software architects, but these are required when multiple stakeholders must be influenced to agree on choices made regarding a project. It’s not uncommon for stakeholders to have expectations beyond the scope of the solution, and it becomes necessary for everyone to agree on a solution. Similar negotiations may be required with cross-functional teams or project managers.

Collaboration Skills

When several team members work on a project, collaboration skills are a necessity. Software architects must be able to share ideas and concepts with their peers and collaborate with professionals in their endeavor to create a successful software solution.

A Day in the Life of a Software Architect

While this is bound to vary from company to company, the usual tasks performed by a software architect are on the following lines. Let’s call our software architect Indra, who works at a tech company’s Bengaluru office.

Start of a day

Indra’s workdays usually begin with checking emails and getting organized for the day. On a typical day, she is involved in keeping updated about the projects going on in her business unit.

Main Tasks

During the day, Indra gets into core technical discussions with her developers and breaks down a business problem or goal into smaller software components. This is important for her development team as they can focus on solving one problem at a time.

She codes, and sometimes it’s the most critical part of the solution. She must also review the code of developers and provide technical guidance. She has a distributed team, so the communication is usually through emails and collaboration tools like Screenhero. She must make sure that the team is following best practices and the DevOps pipelines are streamlined. At times she must refactor to streamline the technical overheads.

She allocates some time to document technology, process, and design related to the software solution being developed.

Challenges

Indra participates in management meetings when a new project proposal is being discussed. She may be required to attend client meetings and understand their requirement. She must give her inputs to the management on various factors, including risks, resources, the time required, and so on. Her knowledge is leveraged to make project-related decisions.

Once a project is allocated, she needs to create a software design that makes the individual components work together as a solution. A critical element in this process is to ensure that the parts have minimal or no dependencies on each other. She must design the solution and share her ideas and concepts with the team members. This process keeps everyone on the same page and encourages members to clear doubts and share their ideas.

How to Become a Software Architect?

The role of a software architect is considerably impactful in the software industry and has immense growth potential. A roadmap may be followed to reach your goal of being a software architect.

The Academics

This is not mandatory, but having a degree in computer science or a relevant course shows your commitment to work in the industry. When you pass out from a good school, there is a good possibility of getting recruited through campus interviews.

Further Training

Apart from the degree courses, several programs, and boot camps focus on various technology stacks. You can choose the one that fits your requirement but check the credentials of the institute and the trainer. The idea is to get proficient in the programming languages you are keen on.

Your sound understanding of programming concepts and languages will help you propel further in the industry. As a software architect, you must be able to review the code written by developers and recommend best practices, which is possible when you are an expert in the domain.

As you work your way towards the coveted position, you must keep updating yourself with regular training in various domains like DevOps, System design, and other technology stacks.

Get Work Experience

To become a software architect, you need several years of experience in programming and relevant technology stack. Therefore, start working as a software developer to get first-hand experience in coding, teamwork, software development lifecycle, and other aspects of software development.

Your job will give you opportunities to work with software architects and let you understand their job functions. Work on those areas and develop the skills that the role requires. A strong experience and knowledge are crucial for transitioning into the role of a software architect.

Get Mentored

The role of a mentor can never be overemphasized. Find a senior architect or a similar profile professional in your organization who can guide you. Ensure that your values align with the individual and the person is willing to mentor you.

What are The Advantages of a Software Architect Course?

A software architect course exposes you to the tools and techniques required for the job. Usually, these courses provide training in representing the architecture of a software system in UML and other visual tools. They introduce you to the most common architectures, diving deeper into their qualities.

Managing trade-offs is an important part of the role of a software architect, and the courses introduce you to them. Evaluation of software architecture and the qualities of a good architecture are showcased to provide a basis for making a choice. You also learn to improve software architecture.

The courses go further into explaining how architecture influences the process of software development. You learn to document applications with UML diagrams and then evaluate the architecture using the Architecture Trade-off Analysis method.

Upon completing a course, you’re well versed in explaining the behavior of a system and understanding the components, connections, protocols, topologies, and other key areas needed in the job.  

FAQ

Is software architect a good job?

The role is among the highest in demand in the software industry. The growth in the software ecosystem and the rise of start-ups have benefited software architects. Established companies with extensive projects need people who understand the technology and commercial aspects of maintaining such projects. This is where software architects come in.

Is software architect a well-paying role?

The average salary for a software architect is INR 18,00,000 per year. This goes up as the experience builds up and can get in the range of INR 40,00,000 per year. The figures have been reflecting it as a well-paying job.

Are architects required to write code?

A software architect is usually involved in coding but not as much as a software developer. However, they need the expertise of a senior developer to code critical parts of a solution or troubleshoot a module.

Do you need a master’s degree to be a software architect?

While most software architects are not postgraduate’s, it does not hurt to have a master’s degree. Some companies may prefer higher qualifications, but the focus is more on experience and skills. The master’s degree is secondary in most cases. Certification or professional courses however add value to your skillsets.

Conclusion

The role of a software architect is worth the effort that goes into achieving it. It’s a growth-oriented role with scope for further development. The time is right to start preparing for the same and be ready to be picked by a leading organization. 

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